A few interesting items related to the arts that I’ve seen on the web or in the news:
- From the “Travelling Art” Department: Although I never personally saw them, USA Today has an interesting article on the murals that used to adorn the east concourse of the old American Airlines terminal at JFK. It appears that a casual conversation between an airport skycap and a passenger heading home to Brazil ended up saving these murals from being landfill. The murals, created by Brazilian artist Carybé, explore two very different themes of the Americas. The murals had been part of the AA terminal since 1960, and at 17’ tall and more than 50’ long each, they were hard to miss… and hard to care for. Over the years, the colors faded, objects the artist embedded in the pieces fell off, and layers of grime and bird droppings accumulated. So when it came time to demolish the terminal and build a new one, the plan was just to leave the site-specific murals behind and allow them to get torn down and destroyed with the building. The article details how the murals were saved (which wasn’t an easy task, as they weren’t painted on canvas… they were painted directly onto the terminal walls…. and thus to save them, entire walls had to be removed). The saved murals were relocated to… Miami International Airport, and are being installed in the south terminal.
- From the “And This One Is A Bunny” Department: kyburg alerted me to a really interesting site talking about art created by British-born and -based artists Tim Noble and Sue Webster. These artists take assemblies of what could best be described as junk, and through lighting projections (and thus the reference to shadow bunnies), create totally unrelated shadows. You really have to look at the site, and you’ll be pretty amazed at what they create and how they create it.
- From the “But I Just Don’t See The Value” Department: Both of the links above demonstrate cases of creativity and recognition of arts. But this is something we’re seeing less and less. The NY Times has an article about how the art skills of 8-th graders are mediocre at best. They can’t recognize styles of painting; they can’t recognize styles of music. What happens when these students grow up? You get articles like this one in the LA Times, where stimulus jobs are somehow downplayed just because they are in the arts? Have we returned to the era when actors are second-class citizens? Is a job working in the theatre or in film doing technical crafts such as scenery, lights, or sound any less of a valuable job than someone manufacturing a car? Is a job working in the front part of the theatre, selecting programs and supporting the production side of things any less valuable than car designers and accountants at a car company? Is our only image of theatre the outragious prices charged on Broadway, or do we forget that most theatres charge prices that aren’t much more than movie prices or sporting event tickets (i.e., $10-$40)? Perhaps our priorities are backwards.
- From the “Passing of an Era” Department: According to the NY Times, the last Virgin Megastore in NYC is closing… and with the closure of the Hollywood Virgin Megastore, the chain will be gone from the use. There aren’t many big brick-and-morter music stores left (perhaps the few Amoebas). I have fond memory of visiting record stores in my youth: the Licorice Pizza in West LA, Music Odyssey (with the pinball machines and used records upstairs), and the Tower in Westwood.